Angela Albi, CC-BY-NC-ND


“Kaleidoscope: Patterns in Nature and Society”

Exploring shifting patterns in nature and society from remarkable perspectives was the aim of the TEDx conference organized by young researchers from the University of Konstanz, the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour and the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior (MPI-AB). TEDx events bring together people with different backgrounds to share experiences in specific topics. Nine artists, photographers, musicians, coders and scientists presented their work, with the challenge of doing so in under 18 minutes.

“I’m fascinated by patterns and I find beauty in geometrical order, shapes and structures in nature,” says Angela Albi, co-lead organizer of the conference. “Movement and patterns are also key to what I’m studying for my PhD, animal collective behaviour.” For her, therefore, the conference topic was an obvious choice. A Russian software engineer who uses AI to create artworks (Helena Sarin), a Spanish photographer who transforms ordinary bird flight into otherworldly forms (Xavi Bou) and a US-American engineer who applies the rules of animal swarms to human dancers (Naomi Leonard) were among the global experts who stepped up to the microphone at TEDxKonstanz to present their twist on the study of patterns. The line-up also included plenty of local talents from academic institutions in the region, including Liat Graver, a contemporary artist from Berlin who uses a robot as a tool for artistic creation, and mathematician Jürgen Richter-Gebert (Technical University of Munich), who uses mathematics to visualize the geometry of music. From Konstanz, Hubl Greiner, musician and composer, and Sudanese drummer Mohammed Badawi exchanged ideas and shared stories of how they use music to build bridges across cultures. From Konstanz universities, economist Anke Hoeffler (University of Konstanz) discussed her work on interpersonal violence in a session with economist Maike Sippel (HTWG), who is studying climate change.

“Science is much more than just a clich of dusty facts and data sets. It can actually be transferred and transformed into something creative and more tangible, highlighting the beauty of it in a way that creates a bridge for people, arousing their interest and curiosity, wanting to discover science, learn more and broaden or gain (new) perspectives,” says Jana Straßheim, the event’s Communication Manager. “The same goes for art – art is much more than this clich of something subjectively beautiful but rather ‘useless’. Bringing both together seemed to be a perfect fit for science and art communication.”

New modes of artistic expression

Music through a new lens: mathematical and cross-cultural patterns

Algorithms of complexity: building patterns from the bottom up

Patterns of interactions underlying social issues